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Austin Mini Reptune- 1976
The Austin Mini Reptune GT Gullwing is a body kit designed for the Austin Mini, and the brainchild of British-born designer Dennis Prophet. Mr. Prophet worked for British Motorcar Company’s Competition Dept. in England before immigrating to Canada in 1963. He was responsible for setting up the Canadian branch of BMC’s tuning division for them in Ontario. He was responsible for the import of the Austin-Healey 3000 and its racing activities but soon started his own business in Scarborough, Ontario called Reputation Tuning Services, or Reptune.
In 1967, Dennis Prophet launched his first Mini-based car to his own design: the Reptune GT, which was similar in styling to the Ogle SX1000, another mini-based kit car. During the 1967 World’s Fair, rebranded to Expo ’67, held in Montreal, Reptune had a spectacular stand with seven Reptune GT bodies suspended at various heights simulating an automobile manufacturer’s production line.
It was a simple idea the public quickly took interest in – place a lightweight fiberglass car body over the existing metal one for a completely different look and feel at a relatively inexpensive price. The design and sporty styling had obvious appeal. The original brochure describes the Mini GT Gullwing Concept, the follow up to the Reptune GT, as: “Racey, swinging car styling that is economical, easy to accomplish (Drop-On) using the popular tough Mini as the base structure.”
The Reptune GT Gullwing uses standard Mini front engine and front wheel drive mechanicals. A vintage Reptune brochure seen in our archives lists the total vehicle weight as 1390 lbs. The Reptune also boasted a four-seater configuration, a larger trunk and a menu of accessories that included a special roll bar, bucket seats, mag wheels, a dished steering wheel, and seat recliner kits plus many dash configuration options.
Installation began by removing the top, both doors, all exterior lights and the bumpers from the Mini. The Mini chassis is then strengthened by replacing the bottom section of the original doors. Drop on the Reptune body, replace the lights and bumpers and you are good to go. The “double body” was said to improve safety. The acrylic weather shield gullwing doors are easily detached from the Reptune for open-air driving, and allegedly allowed for better performance with weight savings of more than 100 lbs.
In total, an impressive thirty-four GTs were sold before Prophet came up with a simpler and cheaper new model: the Reptune GT Gullwing, of which he sold thirty-two. Prophet kept the GT Gullwing prototype, the molds plus one production car until they were all sold in 2017. The one seen at Lane Motor Museum is a production model.
Manufacturer: Donor Car – Austin Mini; Body Kit: Reptune
Country of Origin, Car: England; Kit: Canada
Drivetrain Configuration: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Water-cooled, BMC, 4-cylinder, 98hp
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Top Speed: 68 mph
Years Produced – Car: 1959-2000
Years Produced Kits: 1967-ca. 2017
Number Produced Cars: unknown
Number Produced Kits: 66
Cost: $2,500 (approx.)